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The building that is today the Recycled Books Records CDs store in the downtown square of Denton dates back to the early 1900s. This resale store was originally home to the Wright Opera House. Constructed by rancher William Crow Wright after the old Denton courthouse was struck by lightning in 1894 and condemned, a grand opera house was built in its place which enjoyed a short life as the pride of Denton from 1900 to 1913.


  • Portrait of the Wright Family. William Crow Wright divided up his wealthy estate among his seven children, as well as some of his small farms and land holdings in Denton County.

Pictured are William Wright along with his wife and seven children.
  • The front of the Wright Opera House in 1900. The opera house opened in February of 1900. Visible is the sign of the Parlin and Orendorff Company that occupied the space below the opera hall.
  • Another view of the Wright Opera House and the Parlin and Orendorff Company. Date unknown.
  • Front view of the Wright Opera House in 1982. The Kibbler Office Supply Store's sign visible on the front. During this time the opera house was vacant.
  • Advertisement for the first performance at the Wright Opera House, a light opera called "Finnegan's Ball" by the company Murray and Mack. Published in the Denton County Record and Chronicle, Vol. 18, February 8, 1900.

Located on the northeast corner of the downtown square, this building stood in the 1900s as the Wright Opera House, created and owned by William Crow Wright.1 The Wright Opera House was constructed following an unfortunate incident that proved fortunate for the citizens of Denton, who were in need of a public hall to provide entertainment. In 1894 the old Denton courthouse was struck by lightning and condemned due to extensive damages.2 William Crow Wright purchased the condemned courthouse for $750 along with Block 6 (the entire northeast corner of the square) for $5,965.3

William Crow Wright was a rancher born in Clarksville, Texas, in 1837.4 Wright founded a horse ranch called Chain Seven Ranch with his brother in Denton County.5 He acquired other lands in different counties in West Texas and struggled to maintain them over the years due to Indian attacks, horse thieves, and the Civil War— which he fought in.6 Wright later retired from ranching and sold all of his landholdings in the 1880s, except those in Denton County, which he left to his family.7 It was in 1900 that he invested in building an opera house.

The construction of the opera house cost Wright around 25,000 dollars.8 The opera house was fashioned in Victorian style with a facade of ornate Italianate architecture on the outside.9 According to a report written about the opera house days before its opening, it was “very prettily arranged inside” and furnished with thick carpets, lots of seating, a large stage, and a new drop curtain.10 The opera house was located in the west half of the upper story of the building, and the first floor was leased to an agricultural machinery store, Parlin and Orendorff Company.11

The Opera House officially opened on February 14, 1900.12 The first performance held in the Opera House was a light opera called Finnegan’s Ball, performed by the company of Murray and Mack.13 For a while the Wright Opera House was able to hold many musical and dramatic performances from traveling companies that traveled through the Dallas/Fort Worth area.14 For example, an ad from the Denton County News newspaper in 1903 advertised that, “Auber’s beautiful, romantic, musical story FRA DIAVALO will be presented by The Olympia Opera Co.”15 Another advertisement from the Denton County News in 1903 announced, “Mr. J Rollin Hayward presents MISS MAY STEWART performing a comedy called The Sculpters Dream with “special stage settings and magnificent costumes.”16

In addition to operas, the hall space was used for a variety of events, ranging from an Old Fiddler’s contest, meetings for dignitaries, and high school commencement ceremonies.17 There were yearly commencement exercises for John B Denton College as well as Denton High School.18 A boxing match between a local boxer and semi-pro boxer from Dallas was the last event held in the opera house.19

In 1906 William Wright died.20 Virgil Flow took over management of the opera house and over the next few years the Opera House’s popularity began to dwindle.21 Fewer traveling acts performed and smaller crowds frequented the hall. This decline was mainly due to the rise in popularity of motion picture houses where shows cost only ten to twenty cents each.22 The competition from motion picture houses paired with the lack of supervision by Wright led to the Wright Opera House closing in 1913.23

The opera house received some use in 1915 and 1916 when it was leased as a theater by Clarence and Vernon Brownlow.24 It was then reopened in 1918 by Jay Hardson as the Majestic Motion Picture Theater. In 1935 it was sold to Martin Kornblatt and remodeled completely. The stage and high ceiling were removed, and the space was converted into office rooms.25 A department store called The Boston Store occupied the space, followed later by the Kibbler Office Supply Store.26 In the 1980s, the store lay vacant.27

In 1990, ownership of the historic building went to Recycled Books Records CDs, who moved from a crowded space near Texas Women’s University to the former opera house as their business expanded.28 In 1998 the building’s exterior was painted the purple color that it is today.29 Recycled Books Records CDs is still in business today, and has become a trademark location of Denton.

1. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

2. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

3. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

4. Handbook of Texas Online, Michael E. McClellan, "WRIGHT, WILLIAM CROW," accessed April 18, 2019,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwr16.

5. Handbook of Texas Online, Michael E. McClellan, "WRIGHT, WILLIAM CROW," accessed April 18, 2019,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwr16.

6. Handbook of Texas Online, Michael E. McClellan, "WRIGHT, WILLIAM CROW," accessed April 18, 2019,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwr16.

7. Handbook of Texas Online, Michael E. McClellan, "WRIGHT, WILLIAM CROW," accessed April 18, 2019,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwr16.

8. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

9. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019 

10. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

11. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

12. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

13. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

14. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

15.  Acton, Denton and Carey. Denton County News. (Denton, Tex.), Vol. 11, No. 46, Ed. 1 Thursday, March 19, 1903, newspaper, March 19, 1903; Denton, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth504250/), accessed May 4, 2019

16. News Publishing Company. Denton County News. (Denton, Tex.), Vol. 12, No. 3, Ed. 1 Thursday, May 7, 1903, newspaper, May 7, 1903; Denton, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth502304/), accessed May 4, 2019

17. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/), accessed April 19, 2019

18. Denton High School Twentieth Annual Commencement Program 1905, book, 1905~;(https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29646/), accessed May 4, 2019

19. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

20. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

21. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

22. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

23. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

24. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

25. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

26. http://recycledbooks.com/the-wright-opera-house accessed April 19, 2019

27. Texas State Historical Association. The Texas Historian, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1982, periodical, September 1982; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391267/:accessed April 19, 2019

28. Caitlyn Jones, May 4, 2018, Denton-Record Chronicle, https://www.dentonrc.com/opinion/columnists/beloved-bookstore-turns-this-weekend/article_52f1b488-aa49-5aeb-aa1f-1dcaf791235c.html, accessed April 19, 2019

29. http://recycledbooks.com/the-wright-opera-house, accessed April 19, 2019